Happiness is a Choice

I find it very interesting that there is now scientific proof that happiness is a choice. In a recent study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, scientists found that” simply trying to be happier could actually elevate mood and well-being.” In the study, two groups of students listened to happy music and one group was asked to make a real effort to feel happier while the other group of students was told not to actively try to feel happier.

Guess which group felt happier? Right—the one that made the effort to feel happy. According to psychologist, Tom G. Stevens, Ph.D, author of You Can Choose to be Happy, “Choose to take advantage of opportunities to learn how to be happy. …Choose to be in environments and around people that increase your probability of happiness. The persons who become the happiest and grow the most are those who make truth and their own personal growth primary values.”

So, if being happy is a choice, why do so many people seem to be so unhappy? Again, there is research that says our brains are constantly looking for things that are bad and negative experiences tend to cause our brains to react intensely to bad news. However, we can counter the brain’s negative bias by appreciating and taking time to enjoy the positive things in our lives.

Throughout our day we have lots of brief positive experiences—maybe as short as 15-20 seconds long. People who choose to be happy recognize those moments. These moments can be simple—like a really good cup of coffee as we start our day or a hug from a child on her way out the door to school. When we focus on these kinds of moments, they help us overcome the negatives that will come at us.

This blog is about making people matter at work so why are we discussing this? Well, one of the ways people feel happy at work is when they are recognized for good work or rewarded for going “above and beyond” what is expected of them at work. Hearing a heartfelt “thank you” from a manager can make an employee’s day and that will carry over into other parts of his/her life. Cultivating thankfulness and gratitude is a scientifically-backed way to increase happiness.

Here’s why having happy people makes a difference at work—According to Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, in his 12 years of researching happiness at Harvard, he found that “cultivating a positive mindset could boost well-being and improve workers’ performance on many levels, from productivity to creativity and engagement.”

Many people aren’t aware that happiness is a choice but it is and it’s your decision to make. Happy people are more productive, more creative, and more engaged at work and isn’t that what we all want?


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